Soci 498 – Sociology of Digital Games: A reflect…

Soci 498 – Sociology of Digital Games:

A reflection of the writing process, the field and canons of game studies

I have just finished a massive amount of reading [4 books, 42 articles] in and around game studies, and am now trying to put it all together in the form of a lit. review. I had been dreading the actual writing of this paper, thinking it would be long, dry and tedious. I have spent the last few weeks trying to be efficient – ultimately changing my writing style from brain dump to editing process – and write categorical lists of quotes and personal notations to be used in the final writing process. After feeling frustrated and feeling mentally blocked on it, I decided to revert back to my method of sitting down and spitting out everything i remember about all the readings as per the categories i had assigned for my paper. I am surprised at how much easier the information flows. As i am writting a thought, i suddenly remember that i read ‘that’ somewhere else and start digging through the articles. Essentially, i have a general idea of the form of the paper, but have no idea of the details until it is actually on paper.

I was happy to see that game studies, as a field in and of itself, has solid core of themes regardless of the field the work stems from. (lit. studies, cinema, soci, etc.) It gives me hope that eventually, the field will redefine the concepts and terms for the study of video games/persistant virtual worlds and cut the apron strings from the founding discplines of the fields of which it was born. Canons are forming and the foundation of the field is being built. At times, my criticism for the lack of canons and foundations have been harsh – though this course (great course if you are passionate about game studies and like to read) I have seen the positive elements of conceptual repetition and the beginning of a theoretical framework.


Internet Withdrawal For anyone who knows me, we…

Internet Withdrawal

For anyone who knows me, we are a well connected family – digitally that is. In our living space is a nice ‘family’ arrangement, running along two walls, so we can all sit together when we are off in our seperate directions in cyberspace. (which is quite often!)

Don’t get me wrong, we usually have the television on and the radio in the background blending in with the boings and pings of our computers. Both of my daughter’s read quite alot and both have active, offline social lives.

But yesterday, we seemed to have forgotten what we did before the internet. Videotron, (my lame isp) was offline for almost 10 hours, as well as blundering up my digital cable off and on all night. We were beside ourselves with boredom, lamenting the loss of our access. Although i am currently in a writting frenzy, trying to finish up my papers, and my daughter usually watches fear factor on monday nights anyways, we both checked the router an embarrassingly amount of times.

When i went to order pizza, i was stunned to realize that i actually have never written the number down because i always check our local listings online. When i decided to do some work, I realized that alot of my papers were bookmarked online (to save the trees!) – so work was futile in that sense.

In the end, we read books for pleasure and watched some ‘off-mainstream’ reality show about male models, had some mother daughter quality time, and at 11:30pm when the internet came back – i breathed a sigh of relief and went back to watching some old Law & Order episode.

The Question of Virtual Property in MMO’s There…

The Question of Virtual Property in MMO’s

There has been alot of discussion within the field of game studies about player ownership in mmorpg’s due to the effort and time a player puts into the growth of their character. [oversimplified of course] The argument runs something along the lines that players should own the virtual property they acquire within the game space – since they earned it, therefore creating the accumulated total of the character. The oppositional argument is that all that is created in the game space is still by way of the game code itself, and the ToS of most games do indeed state that whatever is created within the gamespace is technically and legally theirs.

This got me thinking today, about the apartment that i rent from my landlord. I pay a monthly fee to live in someone else’s space…much like monthly fees i pay for Everquest, permitting me to live, when i log in, in the world of Norrath. Now, during the last 5 years – i have paid my landlord rent, and he has upkept the apartment to typical standards – this could be seen as the patches and periodic updates in mmo’s. No matter what i put into this apartment by choice such as carpets, decor etc., when i stop paying, i technically move out. I do not own the space that i have called home – and paid for. Yes, i have the option to take the carpets and light fixtures with me, much as i have the option to give my items away in-game before i delete my character or cancel my subscription.

But in the case where my landlord covered the cost of the paint for the upkeep (even if the work was done by myself free of charge) , much like the game offering me the tools to create or develop my character, when i leave i ‘can’t take it with me’. So the question is then, why do people feel that they own what they create in a game world with someone else’s tools? Paid for or worked for, doesnt seem to make a difference to my landlord when its time to move out.

Identity, Passwords & Kids Earlier today, my d…

Identity, Passwords & Kids

Earlier today, my daughter lost connection with her MSN messenger world. She has been ‘hacked’ as she told me. Upset that she could no longer log into her messenger, we tried to reset her password. No matter what we tried, we could not log in, continuously getting the same message that although her email was indeed a valid .net password, there was a problem accessing her account.

Normally, I would chalk this up to a technical glitch but instead I have to look back on her history of password sharing among friends. It has become common practice for the kids in her circle to share each other’s passwords. More often then not, this is done in fun. They would log on to each other’s messengers and pretend to be the other person. This troubles me when I think about my previous post. In times of cattiness, this fun exchange of identity has turned into backstabbing nastiness.

In an attempt to explain the pros and cons of sharing passwords – it might be fun, or necessary in case of emergency – but you can also get burned, as we have found out in the past. There has been times when she has been confronted for her ‘odd behavior’ and sometimes even nastiness.

It is hard enough to be a kid/teen in this day in age, confronted with issues of anorexia and sexuality, playing with each other’s identity and social relations makes life that much tougher. I am also led to ask what impact this type of identity swapping has on the development of one’s identity in such a vulnerable social state. Kids are trying to figure out their place in their worlds, how do they caculate the equation when they arent the only ones shaping their identity in such a direct way? (Kids can calculate media effects etc. if educated etc..) We have all experimented with our identity in one way or another when we were kids/teens, but I can’t think of anything that would have been remotely similar.

As a parent, I am brought back to the question of how to deal with this. When being ‘hacked’ is less likely a question of some techie messing around, and more likely one of their friends seeking vengeance for looking good on Friday or something and changing each other’s passwords..

Unfortunately, I have defaulted to fear tactics. I filed an ‘official’ report with MSN, and told my daughter to let her friends know that we reported the ‘hack’ and that msn can track the changes to an account from IP addresses … this was quite effective when one friend thought they may actually get in trouble…

And lastly, I explained things like password protection and terms of services that they all agreed on when creating their accounts – telling them its illegal to give out your password or to violate the terms of service. I am not overly proud of this tactic, and would more then likely freeze up if ever actually asked what would happen (legally) if a bunch of 12 years olds were to violate the ToS, but for now, anything ‘illegal’ scares them – it works – thats all i care bout for now.

Growing up…again As a mother of a ‘on the bri…

Growing up…again

As a mother of a ‘on the brink’ of teen daughter, I have recently been suffering through all that awkward growing stages and unpopularity phases of girlhood all over again. No matter how stressed out I am over school work, what my future holds, rent and car troubles, i have to honestly say, I am glad that those are the least of my worries.

It saddens me to have to watch my daughter go through all of those backstabbing catty girl fights that most of us remember from our younger years. Knowing that all i really want to do is go to school for her and straighten out the bratty kids who think they are ‘all that’. I sometimes secretly wish for a Freaky Friday incident …otherwise, i know i have to sit back quietly, being her private cheerleader, explaining the bigger picture of life to her, letting her know that she is better then that, and to try hard not to stoop to their level… It is hard to watch her cry, knowing there’s little I can do to make things better…

If anyone has any tips on how to get through this (for both of us!) my ears and eyes are wide open!

Just when it seems to slow down… No matter ho…

Just when it seems to slow down…

No matter how long I have been working on my abstract, last night was the usual rush of last minute edits and changing of ideas. Working on two abstracts was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. Working in two languages was even more of a challenge.

But now that the abstracts are done, its time for me to start backing up what I said I would. I have to say, no matter how much I love using technology for research, there is nothing better then spending a few hours in the library (with at least one call number in hand) and browsing the shelves for books that might peak your interest.

Glad to say that this browsing method resulted favorably – with many more books in hand by the end of the day then I could have* found using keywords and topics online.

*with the university’s data base mind you